Car Show Outtakes: 1974 Opel Ascona A and 1977 Opel Kadett C – From Opel’s Heyday


In the seventies not one automaker offered such a wide variety of car models in Europe as Opel did. Their lineup between 1970 and 1980: the GT, Kadett, Ascona, Manta, Rekord, Commodore, Admiral, Diplomat, Senator and Monza. Not all of these models were available throughout the whole decade, it’s merely to give you an impression.

A small hatchback with a 993 cc engine ? Opel had it. A big luxurious sedan with a Chevy 327 ? No problem. An inline-4 or 6 cylinder engine with fuel injection ? Check ! Any car body type, it could be found in an Opel showroom.

Last month I came upon two fine representatives of those days, a 1974 Opel Ascona and a 1977 Opel Kadett. The Ascona was Opel’s Mittelklasse-model, quite literally a middle-class car. The Kadett was one segment down the ladder.


Here’s a splendid 1974 Opel Ascona A, the letter A refers to the 1970-1975 first generation. The Ascona’s main competitor was the contemporary Ford Taunus, also from Germany. In the US, it was called the Opel 1900.


A clean 2-door sedan. The Ascona was also available as a 4-door sedan and as a wagon. The sporty coupe based on the Ascona was called the Manta, evidently Opel’s Ford Capri fighter.


The Ascona 16 S at the show is equipped with an 80 hp 1,584 cc 4-cylinder engine. Other engine options were a 60 hp 1.2 liter and a 90 hp 1.9 liter. The 1.6 liter engine without the letter S was good for 68 hp.


And there was this, a 1977 Opel Kadett C. That’s the 1973-1979 third generation, based on GM’s global T-platform. The Kadett, all generations, was our Opel. As if Opel had especially designed it for us. Our best selling car model for many, many years in a row.

Simple and spartan. Because hey, what’s not on the car can’t break down. And that’s a big plus. Furthermore a good overall quality, well built, good value for money. And with decent rust proofing, certainly compared with anything from Southern Europe. Or from Japan, for that matter.


This is an Opel Kadett City 1.2 S. The City was the 3-door hatchback.  A sedan, wagon and coupe were also available. And there was a convertible with a targa top, called the Aero, built by coachbuilder Baur. I never saw that one in the metal though.

The 1.2 S has a 60 hp 1,196 cc 4-cylinder OHV engine. The most powerful engine in the Kadett C was a 115 hp 1,979 cc engine with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, which was the power unit in the Kadett GT/E 2000 EH.


Noteworthy is that this very bright blue Kadett has a 3-speed automatic transmission. Uncommon in this segment, only high-end automobiles were supposed to have an automatic back then. Like an Opel Admiral or Diplomat, for example.

In my childhood our streets were littered with Kadetts and Asconas. What a treat to see a pair of classic Opels in a showroom condition, after all these years !

The seventies, Malaise Era ? Certainly not for GM Europe.


Related: CC 1975 Opel 1900 – What The Vega Could Have Been  PN